JOHANNESBURG – Jozef Vukusic is an astute coach who has opted to keep his feet firmly on the ground despite the immense success that he’s garnered at Polokwane City this season.
Taking over the reins from Bernard Molekwa during the pre-season, Vukusic has been a breath of fresh air at City. He’s already broken the club’s record of 43 points in a PSL season as their weekend’s 2-0 away win to Highlands Parks took them to 44.
“I didn’t know about that (breaking the club’s record),” Vukuzic admitted. “I was thinking that they hadn’t collected so many points (before). It’s good. I’m happy that my guys have played well and have had a solid season. We broke many records this season, but we’ll see (what happens in the end).”
Rise and Shine are currently fifth on the log standings, and could amass 50 points if they win their remaining two matches. In those games, Vukusic’s troops will hold the draw card as they may decide the fate of teams at either end of the log table. In the penultimate round, they’ll face relegation-threatened Chippa United on Saturday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, while they’ll wrap up their season on May 11 away to pacesetters Pirates at Orlando Stadium.
“Theoretically it’s possible (that we can reach the 50 mark), as there are six points up for grabs. We’ll try. But we are playing teams that are good in the competition,” Vukusic noted.
“It won’t be easy but we want to play to our potential and be prepared to relish games like that. For us, it will be a good challenge against Pirates and we’ll go into the game, and (try and) collect points.”
The Slovakian-born coach is not a stranger to the PSL having had a stint with National First Division’s defunct FC Cape Town from 2010 to 2012. However, his seven-year absence didn’t make it easier for him to think that he’d return and fit like a glove, especially in a top-flight football team.
“I am new in the league, and I didn’t imagine everything,” he explained. “But our target was a top-eight finish. And my coaching philosophy is to bring the team together, play every single game on the limit. When I look at the season, I think the team played with potentials, strengths and weaknesses. I think the number of points that we’ve collected is very nice but let’s wait for the last two games and we’ll see what will come out.”
Among other records that the 54-year-old coach has broken this season, is becoming the first Rise and Shine coach to bag the PSL Monthly award, scooping the month of October.
Vukusic’s stint at the club has also seen the resurgence of captain Jabulani Maluleke, who’s playing with the mind of youngster while he’s in a body of 37-year-old.
“It’s a very tough season. There are no favourites, and anyone can win the games. But, I’m proud of the team,” he concluded.@Mihlalibaleka